One of my formative experiences, as a junior at Georgetown University, was a month studying Russian at the state university in Leningrad (now of course once again St. Petersburg), seven years before the end of the Soviet Union.  Lousy food, spartan accommodations, but what an amazing experience in discovering the local culture and people. These days I'm pretty soured on Russia, but Putin won't last forever, and I hope to return in happier times. 


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